There is a surge of superficiality in the world right now, a trend that has, regrettably, also influenced me. I have had a date with destiny that was long overdue and been faced with the harsh reality that I ultimately created for myself. It was brutal, and I had to deal with the consequences of my poor life choices, only to discover that I was ill-equipped for real life. This is a tale of caution but also one of hope, depending on your perspective. People, under enough pressure, will change their ways. If that change is for the better, is something that each individual has to decide for him/herself.
In the past, I used to be a passive-aggressive a-hole in my day to day life. I worked the minimum amount necessary to be considered valuable to the company that I worked for, I entertained a small number of shallow relationships with the people around me, just enough so that they kept talking to me, and I spent my time dreaming of a better tomorrow and endlessly imagining how one day, I will change my life into what I always wanted it to be. Deep inside, I knew that I wasn't doing the right thing, that I was shallow, uncaring, distant and insecure. I protected myself from these thoughts by placing an aura of superiority around me. I turned my attention away from the truth of where I was mentally, and the people around me not only noticed it but also got tired of it. By that time, I already had deep-seeded patterns or habits of negativity that I felt I could no longer control. I genuinely believed that this was my life, whether I liked it or not and there was nothing that I could do to change it. I set myself up for failure and sure enough, the time came to reap what I had sown.
One day, not so long ago, a person very close to my heart decided to confront me about my way of life and how it was impacting me and the people around me. She sat me down and told me that she and just about everybody that I truly cared about had had enough of my uncaring and self-centered behavior. During this one conversation, I was told everything that I feared I would hear one day, and my whole world was turned upside down. She told me bluntly that I was a distant, uncaring and fake bastard who was so wrapped up in his head that I couldn't care less about the rest of the world. I was also told that the people that I hold closest to my heart, we're just about ready to give up on me. This was an intervention, a last ditch effort before they gave up on me.
This is an issue that has affected many people and is coming to others, so I want to share my story and thoughts with the readers, in hopes of moving you toward taking action before it happens or, if it has already happened to you, to do what needs to be done(or at least learn from what I have done), in order to move forward. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. It hurt a lot. I was confused, felt abandoned but couldn’t argue the hard facts presented to me because deep down, I knew they were true. I saw the pain on my friend's face as she was speaking and started to realize the damage that I had done to her and many others. She had enough and told me that even if I changed now, there was no guarantee that she and the others still wanted me in their lives. I had hurt them too much, for too long. This confirmation of one of my biggest fears hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like my whole world was shaken, down to its foundation.
So, as per my usual behavior, I wallowed in self-pity for a couple of days and then came to the realization that this is one of the patterns that had led to me getting in this situation in the first place. I have always wanted to change my way of life but found myself lacking in real motivation because each time that I was confronted with hardship, I found a safe, comfortable way to live, one that would allow me to stick to my old habits.
I started paying attention to my thoughts and saw that the vast majority of them were negative, disempowering and worst of all, automatic. I had no conscious control over them. I had a solid, multi-layered, cynical thought system in place, meant to discourage me from making any significant changes to my lifestyle. I felt stuck, trapped in a mental prison that I had created. Despite all this, or maybe, because of all this and the situation that I found myself in real life, I felt a lot of pressure to change my ways. This time, failure would mean a real loss of friends and family.
I slowly started to change my view of the whole situation from negative to positive, because there was a fire lit under my ass that I realized could burn me to ashes, or force me to do something about my situation. I couldn't just idly sit by and let this nightmare play out to a very painful conclusion. I decided to do change, even if it felt impossible at the time. This is the choice that I avoided for years and what ultimately got me in this do or die situation.
I started to look for a solution out of desperation, I learned and applied everything that I could wrap my head around. I had hits and misses but managed to get further in my self-knowledge and change some bad habits in a very short time period. I felt a sort of hunger for a new state of mind and just couldn't give up. My mind kept spouting the same old depressing thoughts but I couldn't accept them anymore. I started to fight against them and even though I lost almost every time at first, the act of rebelling, of putting my foot down in front of my negativity felt refreshing. I never thought that I could do that. I chose to let that discussion with my friend drive me forward, instead of kicking me down.
My desperation gradually changed into a methodic search of the best ways to improve myself. I became painfully aware of my shortcomings but decided to do something about it instead of just staying in that sorry state. Guess what, it worked! I consciously stepped out of my comfort zone, prepared as best as I could and did things that I would normally run away from. It stings to see how awkward you are in certain situations but I extracted the lessons from my failures, saw what I could change right away and applied my knowledge to the next similar situation. It got easier after a while and also made me aware of how much I need to work on myself.
This is the point that I want to make. I CONSCIOUSLY CHOSE TO CHANGE, despite my deep-seeded belief that I couldn’t do it! What I mean by this is that I made a commitment to change and basically cut off all other possibilities. I only allowed myself to do the things that would help me because I realized pretty early on that it is very easy to fall back into bad habits. I had an unconscious pattern of negativity that got reinforced daily by my failures. I believed that this is who I am and that I will never be able to overcome that, so I had no motivation or energy directed toward change. My fear of losing the important people in my life drove me to take action as I have never done before. I used my fear of the negative emotions as fuel for change.
I became aware that I was focusing too much on my failures and that caused me to see reality through a distorted lens. I felt what I focused on. The brain has difficulty separating between thought and reality, so whatever I thought about, I felt in my body. After I had that epiphany, I changed my focus on more positive aspects of myself and also started deconstructing my disempowering and limiting beliefs. These are just automatic thoughts that constantly ran through my mind and made me feel like crap.
I made my recovery a priority in my life because without it, I would have just gone back to my old ways. During the day I had my earphones constantly pumping information in my head from various psychologists and life coaches. I was extracting the information that was relevant to me. I tried everything that I could get my hands on. It took me maybe 2 weeks to start noticing the changes. I managed to get myself in a better state of mind and sustain it for longer than before. I had moments of clarity. I actually started enjoying the activities that I was engaged in because I forced myself to look for the positive aspects of everything that I was doing. Yes, I said forced myself, because up to that point, I was so used to look for the negative in my life that it became automatic. So I figured that if I practiced being open-minded long enough, it would get integrated into my thought patterns and become automatic as well.
I started getting more and more of those insights because I was paying attention to the way that I was thinking. In fact, you could say that I became obsessed with change. I hungered for it and tried to stay away from distractions that would temporarily make me forget the state that I was in. I stayed hungry, gained momentum and went deeper and deeper into my psyche, clearing it up as I went along. I started believing in myself and what I was doing because it yielded results.
This is not easy to do, but it is worth it. I decided to start with the things that I could control. I changed my daily eating and sleeping habits. I trained regularly. I took time out of the day to settle my thoughts. I checked my state maybe once an hour and if I felt that it was wrong, then I would take a break from what I was doing and address the issue. I reviewed my progress in the evening and decided what I could do better the next day. I decided to stop lying to myself and others. I prioritized my recovery over the other activities in my day. I realized what is truly important in my life and decided to let the negativity occupy a back seat in my decision-making process. This means that I put myself out there, in situations that are uncomfortable at first. This is not easy, and I still get overwhelmed a lot, but I stick with it.
I feel my mind starting to change and I feel more respect for myself because what I am doing is not easy at all. I always have the choice to just lie down on the couch and watch movies 'till 4 AM, or feel sorry for myself, curse life, God, the universe, blame others or myself. This is who I used to be, not who I am right now. I choose to focus on my continuous development, on becoming more open, happier, more generous with myself and others, kinder, more in touch with my feelings which I have repressed for years. I believe that I still have a long way to go until I get back to normality but this time, finally, I am on the right track. I spent years trying other techniques and strategies which have proven ineffective probably because there was no sense of urgency behind them. Perhaps I needed this jolt, this pressure to get me into gear, to make me feel like I have no other choice but to start moving. This is how I chose to interpret it. If I am smart enough, I will make this continuous development pattern that I am using right now a life-long habit because I learned from personal experience that people who stop growing, tend to wither and die.
My progress is obvious to me at this point. I am calmer, I have an open mind toward change in me and others, and for the first time in years, I have faith that my life is heading in the right direction. The people that I know are starting to notice too. They are still cautious around me but I intend to work hard to change their opinion of me. Once you gain some momentum and prove to yourself that you can do it, the body and the mind gradually start working with you, instead of against you. This is a good feeling. The long road back to normality is hard, probably the hardest thing I ever had to do, yet the feeling of fulfillment that I get after making another significant change in my life is a rush that I cannot compare to anything else.